On the Banks of Jordan

As of Nov 2017, this was Daniel Bourguet’s latest book, and there is a sense in which, theologically, it his weightiest, since it is concerned with one issue, the deity/divinity of Jesus. It is also the first volume we have published with The People’s Seminary Press.

At one or two places in his books, Daniel says approvingly that an idea is ‘Trinitarian’; this is an emphasis in thought that says not so much that we are personally working out our identity in relationship to God, but that we find our identity in Christ as we look no longer at ourselves but at the Trinity. (That at least is something of my understanding.) So, this book is a prolonged meditation in the Trinity through the lens of Jesus’ baptism, and I must say that reading through the work and translating it had a profound impact on me.

There are 5 chapters. The first is concerned with Jesus’ encounter with Thomas, when Thomas calls him “My Lord and my God”. The profundity and impact of this statement is explored, leading into the second chapter which looks at what Paul, Peter, John and Jesus himself have to say about Jesus’ divinity. (If Jesus is not divine, then there is no Trinity.) At the end of these and the other three chapters, there is an imaginative “Prayer of Andrew”, as he is seen seated under an olive tree shortly after the resurrection and Thomas’ statement, as he reflects on events and prays. Then the final chapters look in turn at the different accounts of the theophany that took place at Jesus’ baptism. In each gospel, the details are slightly different, presenting the Trinity in slightly varying ways, and this is the food for much thought. Who spoke, when, to whom? How was the Spirit “like a dove”? How are the Old Testament scriptures used? Daniel covers some ground familiar to his readers, perhaps particularly with regard to Jesus’ act of repentance in being baptized (see Repentance — Good News!), but, bound together by the theme of the Trinity, it comes across in a fresh and strong way. As with the other books, it will repay constant re-reading.

Note: in The final discourse before the cross, Daniel says the following: Contemplation has the extraordinary effect of healing distress, and the disciples had plenty of cause for distress awaiting them. Yes, contemplation heals, comforts and brings peace, the very peace of which the disciples had such need, the peace which Jesus alone can give since the world cannot (14:27). This must be at least as true of On the banks as any contemplative work you could encounter.

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